Octavian was considered a lucky man. He defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in northwestern Greece. After the Battle of Actium, all of his enemies were killed and he was able to establish a one-man rule that would bring back stability in Rome. He lived until he was roughly eighty years old, which gave him time to strengthen his rule. He knew that the Roman elite would be able to resist a ruler in monarchical power, so he became extremely diplomatic. Instead of referring to himself as a dictator, Octavian referred to himself as the title of princeps or the “first citizen”. From this, the Principate, the constitutional monarchy of the Early Roman Empire, was formed. In 27 B.C., the senate gave Octavian the great title Augustus, representing the rise of his authority (Noble 154). In 27 B.C., Augustus restored the Roman Republic. He began to hold power without dominating public offices. He controlled the civil authority of the tribunate and the military control of provincial generals. Common ships were allowed to stay open as long as they accepted Augustus’ rule. The government decided to split the provinces in between Augustus and the senate. Augustus was in charge of the frontier provinces and concentrated on the armies and concentrated on Egypt. Local commanders were trustworthy equestrians that owed all of their accomplishments to Augustus. However, plenty of provinces remained under the rule by the senate with governors, like before (Noble 154).
Augustus used the senate as a sounding board. By this, the senate developed into a long-lasting advisory body. However, regular senate meetings lost their freedom of speech they use to have. The popular assemblies began to have restricted powers and, eventually, moved to the senate. Augustus also created the city's first police force and assigned one of his own personal guards. They were called the praetorians, but were known as the Praetorian Guards. These ordinary bodyguards would have a big impact in the future with imperial politics (Noble 154-155). In addition, Augustus created the first civil service that contained a series of prefectures, otherwise known as departments, to supervise. These prefectures were: the city watch, the grain supply, the water supply, the building of roads and bridges, tax collection, and the provisioning of the armies. Equestrians were common in these prefectures and in the provincial government which made them support the Principate to a great extent. However, Augustus or his successors never created a compact administrative grip on the empire. The Roman government was distributed and restricted. Since public officials were not granted any salary, they were prone to taking many bribes. (Noble 155).
On the other hand, the old Roman governing class made reconciliation with Augustus, but they did not condone him for stopping their privileges they use to have. A moderate historian, Tacitus, stated that the Late Republic was a golden era of freedom and “the old sound for morality.” He also stated that most people in Roman appreciated the Principate because it brought peace and prosperity after the troubles they endured in the Late Republic. Many poor people in Rome liked the new system of free grain dispersion under Augustus. They also liked the growth of more public entertainment, like the imperial policy of “bread and circuses”. Augustus helped the poor in many ways by developing a major works program that gave jobs to them. As the textbook states, he founded Rome on “a city of brick” and developed it into “a city of marble” (Noble 155). Augustus also satisfied his troops by reimbursing 300,000 veterans with land, money, or even both in colonies overseas. In the beginning, he paid them with his own personal supply, but later he had the rich pay it with their taxes. He started to decrease the size of the army to reduce the amount of taxes Rome had to pay. However, in A.D. 9, Rome lost three legions by natives while trying to extend the empire into Germany. This caused Augustus to obtain the Rhine River as Rome’s new German frontier. After this, Augustus and his successors established client kingdoms, like Judea and Armenia, in order to protect Rome. Augustus did not gain more territory, but accomplished a victory of the restoration of the legionary principles that was previously lost by Crassus at Carrhae in 53 B.C. (Noble 155-157).
To advocate his idea of restoration, Augustus passed many laws inspireing marriage and childbearing while discouraging promiscuous behavior and adultery. These new laws were ignored by many which caused Augustus to use his daughter, Julia, and banish her to an arid peninsula because of her adulteries. This made an example for the Roman people and had them begin to obey the new laws. These laws was the introduction of the classical period in Rome due to the professionalism that emerged. This resulted in the first law school that was opened in Rome. Local jurists began to accustom to these Roman laws to their provinces. Even though these laws were used in provinces, the international laws in Rome were also used there (Noble 157). Augustus also reconstructed religion too. He reestablished the previous ignored cults and temples in Rome. These cults were important to him because they were seen as Rome’s liberator. Augustus worshipped provinces as a God in the East, where the cult of Roma and Augustus advanced, and in the West, where emperor-worship was created in Lyon and Cologne. These cults were also important because they were apart of state propaganda until Christianity became widely spread in the fourth century A.D. (Noble 157).
In conclusion, Augustus and his Principate gave peace and good fortune after the crash under the Late Republic. Many people appreciated the Principate because of the prosperity it brought. Augustus successfully ended the civil wars in the Late Republican era and fixed the Roman Empire with a fresh start. Even though Republican independence was gone, Augustus and his officials brought stability to Rome. The Augustan Principate would survive for about two hundred years. Augustus was one of the few people in history to establish order so strongly (Noble 155-157).
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